An innovative system using mobile phones has been set up in 135 rural villages in Tanzania, covering a population of about one million, to keep track of stocks of anti-malarial drugs. Each week the local health facilities are sent an automated SMS to check that their stocks of these drugs are not running too low. Staff can then reply via SMS toll-free to a data-base system hosted in the UK with requests for the medicines they need. The supplies of Artemisinin-based combination therapy drugs and quinine injectables are then traced and dispatched as needed.
In the first weeks of the system the stock-outs were reduced by about 75 per cent. The country